Makeup Tutorial - Christmas Bitch

I feel like holiday beauty ideas can be kind of repetitive. Red lips, gold shadow, cat eye liner, or shimmery brown shadow with rosy cheeks and lips. It's all very pretty, but it tends to blur together after a while. There's wholesome, Norman Rockwell winter beauty, but there's also stark, bleak, frozen tundra winter beauty. I wanted to try something a little more along that vein, something that was still really pretty and wearable, but not your typical look. It's a little Robert Palmer girl, a little goth, and really fun.
 One note that I should make is that I didn't realize how weird the low angle of shots made things look until after I had finished putting on all the makeup. Whoops. I guess that's what test shots are for. I hope things are still pretty clear.
I did this at the end of the day, over the minimal makeup that I was already wearing for the day, but the instructions are pretty much the same as they would be if you were starting with a clean face.
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My starting point.
Start, as usual, with foundation. I used a little heavier hand that I normally would, and went it and corrected all the little spots and dots and blotches with concealer. I dusted on a light layer of powder to finish and set. 

My brows were already filled, but I elongated the shape and rounded the arch, giving them a slightly exaggerated appearance. I also still had on the mascara that I'd applied in the morning, a fairly heavy coat on the top and a lighter coat on the bottom.
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For the eyes, I started with a base of silver eyeshadow. Using my finger, I applied Maybelline's Color Tattoo in Silver Strike all the way up to my eyebrows. Then, I applied the shimmery charcoal shade from my Pixi palette to my crease with a small brush, blending it upwards towards my brow for a cut crease effect. With liquid liner, I made a straight line under my lower lash line, adding a slight, downward flick at the inner corner. I also tightlined my lower lash line.




I wanted to keep the look pretty frosty, so I skipped blush in favor of highlighter. I used my silver cream shadow (including the leftovers from applying my eyeshadow) to highlight the tops of my cheekbones, the bridge of my nose, and my cupid's bow. I also brushed a light bronzer under my cheekbones for some added definition.
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For the lips, I was looking for something along the lines of frozen berries. I wanted it to be matte, but not too perfect. I used my OCC Lip Tar duo in red and blue to blend a deep berry color, then blotted it until it was just a stain. I applied it well within my natural lip line, minimizing my lips a little bit. It might sound weird, but I feel like it makes my eyes look bigger.








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This is a great look for casting sultry glances over your shoulder - all big eyes and glimmering cheekbones. It might not be your every day style, but I think it could be an awesome look for New Year's.

So what do you guys think? Is this a look that you would be interested in trying out for a night?

My Chicago Christmas Plan

While I'm terrible about decorating, slow about getting presents for anyone other than myself, and in possession of a rabid dislike of that holiday classic to end all holiday classics, It's A Wonderful Life, I still really enjoy Christmas and Christmas related activities. (How's that for a sentence? I wanted to put in a lot of clauses. Get it? Clauses? I'll see myself out.) While I've lived in Chicago for the better part of 10 years, there's a lot of stuff that my city has to offer that I've never experienced. This year, in the run up to Christmas and New Year's, I'm going to try to work some of them in, and enjoy a new tradition.

Ice Skating in Millennium Park
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I actually did this last year for all of about half and hour. I don't have the best balance anyway, so sticking me on sharp metal blades on hard, unforgiving ice was only just short of disastrous. Nevertheless, Brian and I are going to try to make it a tradition, first grabbing a drink at the beautiful Palmer House bar and then heading over to the park for a skate. This year, I'm wearing a petticoat, and possibly some butt pads.

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This is right down the street from where I work, so I have no excuse not to go! Ok, yes, it's total kitsch, but that's kind of what Christmas is about, isn't it? They've got lots of crafts and trinkets, as well as food and hot mulled wine, which I've never had and would love to try.

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Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Festival
Lincoln Park Zoo is a Chicago institution. It's in Lincoln Park, which is itself pretty scenic, it's close to downtown, and it's free. Every year, they make a beautiful light display, and I've heard from a nearsighted friend that if you have poor vision (which I do), it's a lot of fun to just wander around and enjoy all the shimmering, flickering halos of light.

A Christmas Carol at The Goodman Theater
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This one might be a little outside of my rather miniscule budget, but my neighbor is Bob Cratchit. No, really! A Christmas Carol has been running at The Goodman Theater in Chicago for the past 37 years, and he's been doing the Cratchit role for the past seven or eight of them. The Goodman is a pretty prestigious theater, and this seems like the sort of Christmas tradition that gets very firmly engrained if you take your kids.

Double Feature at The Music Box
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The Music Box is an independent theater, and one of my favorites. They do Rocky Horror every month (although, like most people, I usually only go around Halloween. Sorry, kids), and show tons of second run and independent films. This year, they've got two Christmas-themed double features - White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life, and Home Alone and Die Hard.
I can't really explain why I hate It's a Wonderful Life so much. It just irritates me. George Bailey's constant freakouts, Clarance's bland platitudes, the little girl with her annoying, piping voice - it all just coalesces into me sitting on a couch rolling my eyes so hard they almost pop out of my head.
I love White Christmas, though, despite the fact that it hinges on the most incompetent eavesdropping  the world has ever seen.

Chocolate Chestnut Pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop
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I have heard from numerous friends and loved ones that Bang Bang Pie shop is the place to go in Chicago for pie, biscuits, and candied bacon, and yet I still have to set foot in the place. A serious oversight on my part, and one that I really want to rectify for their seasonal chocolate chestnut pie. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

What are some Christmas traditions in your area? Is there anything that you're particularly looking forward to?

Giving the brownies all their spice

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Here's me in a pretty dress. I'll get back to that in a second.
But first - can I just live at the Korean spa?
For those of you who haven't experienced a magical place like this, a Korean spa is more of a health spa than a luxury experience. You walk in, and they give you an over-sized set of what are basically cotton pajamas. There are Roman-style baths (hot, hotter, and ice cold), and a steam sauna, which are gender segregated because everyone's naked for this bit. If I ever have kids, I'm taking them there all the time, because nothing promotes a positive body image like seeing a wide range of normal, naked bodies.
When you're ready, you can slip on your comfy jammies (no shoes or socks - the floors are heated) and head out to the common area, where there are a variety of dry saunas that range in temperature from about 80° all the way up to the Sudatorium, which tops out at 275°. When you leave, you're warm, happy, relaxed, and usually stuffed with Korean food. It's just about my favorite place n the world when it's cold out. You can even stay overnight, like I did, and it's really cheap - only $15-30, depending on if you get a Groupon and how good the deal is.
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Just one of the 7 or 8 saunas. They're all supposed to have special properties, although the only one that I remember is that the charcoal room is supposed to purify.  Afterwards, I always go to the big Korean supermarket next door and pick up some treats. I don't eat a lot of junk food, but Asian junk food is kind of my jam. If I can't read the label and there's a picture of some kind of dancing seafood on the front, I'm all over it.
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Oh my god so goooooood. Ddukbokki chips.
I also picked up some treats for my face in the form of a bunch of snail extract sheet masks, which already seem to be helping my poor skin. They also gave me some little samples of BB cream, and holy crap is it nice. I will definitely be investing in more Korean skin care products in the future, because it really works.
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Korean skin care may or may not involve actually skinning people and wearing their face. I mean, that's one way to get prefect skin.
The other really fun thing that I got to do this weekend was wear the dress that I bought myself for Christmas. I mentioned it here, and when it arrived, it was just as beautiful as I had hoped it would be. It's the kind of dress that reminds me why I love vintage so much - it's really well made and still structurally sound, even at 60 years old. The fit is pretty much impeccable. It's maybe a tiny bit tight in the shoulders, but the waist and bust just fit like a glove. Thank you so much for making my dress dreams come true, Very Vintage!
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It's a 50s dress with a dropped waist, so I thought I'd add a little 20s flavor to the styling. I set my hair with sponge rollers, and while the final product was a little wilder than I had originally envisioned, I thought it still added a little bit of flapper to the look.
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Ok, maybe a little Bride of Frankenstein, but that's cool too.
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It was really warm out this weekend, up near 50°, so I hardly even needed a jacket. I was really happy to have an excuse to wear this beautiful velvet cape again, though.
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Another thing that I was really happy to be able to bust out again - these killer leopard heels and my back seam stockings. I figured if I was going to do it up, I was really going to do it up.
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Oh, and here's a picture of my in full hair and makeup and my nightgown. I just feel the need to remind you all that I'm actually pretty after the serial killer/sheet mask photo. It doesn't have to put the lotion on its skin! I don't even own a hose!
So, what's your favorite dress (or other item of clothing) that you own? What makes it so perfect to you? I'd love to see some pictures, if they're handy. ;-)

A Coat of a Different Color

I've mentioned before how much I love coats in the winter. I mean, there's obviously a practical aspect to that - I really love not freezing to death, for example - but they're also an important part of putting together any winter outfit. A good coat doesn't just keep you warm, it makes it easy to feel stylish and pulled together when your nose is running, your cheeks are chapped, and your hair is floating around your head in a staticky haze.
Most of the coats that I own are long and full, and I really needed something shorter for riding my bike. I also get overheated pretty easily, so I wanted something a bit lighter weight.
I'd been searching online for something for a while, but it was hard to find that I both liked and that was in my budget. Coats are obviously workhorse items, and have to be well-made to last through all the constant wear and tear of winter. I don't think that necessarily means they have to be $300+ in order to also be stylish, though.
I popped into Buffalo Exchange, and while I was standing at the register with a cute, black, faux-fur coat, I saw someone pick up and put down something vibrantly green. Green is one of my favorite colors, and I like having something a bit more fun than a black coat in the winter, so of course I had to go investigate.
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I took these the day before I dyed my hair. Bye-bye, brunette!
It really couldn't have been a more perfect find. It's a little lighter than my other coats, but still very warm. I love all the details to it - the collar, the puffed shoulders, the slightly flared, a-line shape, the striking color. And it was only $40!
I thought it looked cute paired with a pencil skirt in a similar color and this golden yellow t-shirt. It's a bit of a casual suiting look, which I thought was fun.
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I took these photos in an alley down the street from my house. The garage behind me is actually covered in ivy, and in the summer it's beautifully green. Although the leaves have died back, the vines criss-crossing the wall behind me are still really interesting looking.
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I've realized that most people don't say anything or even show much interest if you're taking photos in public, but a guy who lived across the street from where I was doing this saw me out his window and asked me if I wanted help. It came as a bit of a surprise, but it was nice to get a positive and helpful reaction to my amateur modeling efforts, rather than the opposite.
My baby blue swing coat or navy military style coat will undoubtedly still be my go-tos when the temperature plummets, but for the mild weather we've had so far, this coat is perfect.

In other news, after a bit of thought, I'm going to be stepping back on my posting efforts, at least through the holidays. While it's fun to post every day and it also pushes me to be creative, I want to make sure that I'm always creating quality content. I'm planning on doing three posts a week, or perhaps four if I have something that I'd really like to talk about. There are some changes in store for 2015, and I want to make sure I'm running a tight ship in preparation.

My Year in Television

I actually watch a lot more TV than I do movies. It's not because I necessarily like TV more (although I will say that I'm more involved and more in love with my favorite TV shows than my favorite movies, just because I've spent so much more time getting to know the characters), but because it's hard to find the time to actually watch a movie from start to finish. That's a two or even three hour commitment; it can be much easier to know that I can stop after half an hour or an hour and not feel like I'm leaving something hanging.
I freely admit that I don't have the most distinguishing palette when it comes to entertainment, including TV, but here are the currently airing TV shows that I've been watching over the past year. If you haven't been keeping up with some of these shows, there might be minor spoilers.

New Girl - Finding a new voice, but still ridiculously charming. I want to hang out with these people all the time. I was pretty heartbroken last season when Nick and Jess broke up, but I think the show is doing a good job showing their sense of shared history and affection, while also setting them up for something new in their lives. The supporting cast is still really strong, and while I wish they'd give us a little more of the Schmidt magic that happened in season one, I love the way they've developed Winston.
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I may love this show at least in part because the main character is named Jessica, and I have a weakness for things that have the same name as me. It might also be why I love Jessicas Alba, Simpson, Biel, and Lange.


Vampire Diaries - Got off to a really slow start this season, and although it's picked up a little bit of steam, it's still mired in some really annoying subplots. The show has never utilized Bonnie very well; either kill her or give her something to do. And will someone please kill Enzo already? His charming psycho routine is shades of season 1 Damon, and we do not need the retread.
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Fire water and underbutt. Oh my.

How To Get Away With Murder - Soapy, crazy, silly, maybe even a little stupid, but very entertaining. Viola Davis is both the star of the show and the reason that it holds together at all. She attacks each scene with an incredible level of ferocity, which is good because sometimes it feels like the rest of the cast is just kind of meandering through their scenes. Also, there's some really hot dude on dude action.
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This photo is kind of weird.

Black-ish - I enjoy this show so thoroughly. While I can't say much about its portrayal of the black, upper middle-class experience (or even of the middle-class experience, full stop), it's always laugh out loud funny and topical without coming across as strident. Tracy Ellis-Ross is always fantastic, and the two younger kids are ridiculously cute. It's like a new Cosby Show, except no one involved is a rapist. That we know of.
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See? Adorbs.

Sleepy Hollow - This show is fucking bonkers. There is no other word for it. They churn through plot a mile a minute, and the first season was basically out to show just how good a show could be while being utterly, completely stupid. The WTF-ery is strong in this one. Season two, unfortunately, has not managed to tie things together quite so well - lots of dangling threads and weird character non-development have created a hole that I'm not sure the show can dig itself out of. I'm still going to watch, though, because the chemistry between Ichabod and Abby will always be worth it.
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I've kind of made the theme song my own unofficial theme song. Like, when I walk into a room, I pretend the spooky violins and horns are blasting behind me. It's pretty badass.

Game of Thrones - I am a massive fan of the books, and it stands to reason that I'm a massive fan of the show. I'm consistently amazed at how well they translate something so sweeping and fantastical from the page to the screen. They've managed to streamline a lot of things that needed it without losing the depth and sense of history that made the books so special. All the little tweaks and changes have taken the show in a slightly different direction, and I'm interested in seeing where things continue to head. Some things that I don't like - Theon. Just fucking kill him already, his storyline is not interesting or important. Some things I love - pretty much everything else.
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A throne that will cut your balls off if you sit down to fast doesn't sound like much of a prize.

Orange is the New Black - I'm going to sound like a bit of a crazy person, but while I enjoy this show as I'm watching it, this season, I felt no pull to keep going with it. I watched it half-heartedly for the first six or seven episodes, and then just stopped. I can't even really tell you why. It wasn't that the characters weren't interesting anymore, but rather that things seemed weirdly easy, even tame, after all the shit that went down in the real world this year. I know it's stupid that I'm saying that about this show and not, like, Sleepy Hollow or The Vampire Diaries, but I feel like I want my TV to either be totally escapist or incisively, bitingly topical. For some reason, OitNB didn't feel like either.
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I just don't care what happens to you anymore, pretty white lady in prison. Sorry.

Black Mirror - Holy shit, this show is awesome. It's a big like The Twilight Zone, in that each episode stands alone and has a different cast, and it deals with issues of technology - what it means, how it affects us, how we interact with it. It's a fascinating show, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something both though provoking and entertaining.
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I no longer have any interest in going on American Idol. Not that I did before, but really not now.

Space Dandy - I'm a big fan of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, so I had to give Space Dandy a try. I'm on a couple of episodes in, but so far it's pretty good. I don't know if I like it as much as the others that I mentioned, which were tied to and defined by a particular music style and culture (although maybe Dandy is a subculture that I'm just not familiar with, now that I think about it), but there's something pleasingly trippy and frenetic about the style of animation, and the sly humor and attitude are there in spades.
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This show features a lot of unnaturally bouncy and buoyant breasts. It's actually a signficant plot point.

True Detective - In like a lion, out like a lamb. There was no way the ending was ever going to live up to all the metaphysical craziness and drama, but when it was good, it was soooo gooood. And it made me feel smart, so that's cool. I'm very interested to see where they go with it in season two.

Just imagine William Shatner doing the whole "time is a flat circle" thing.

Forever - This show does not make me feel smart. It's really silly, but that's kind of the fun of it. It's about a medical examiner in New York City - pretty standard, right? But, shocking twist, he's immortal. If he's killed, his body disappears and he wakes up in the nearest body of water. It's because of an Indian curse/blessing/whatever, and he's lived for over 200 years because of it. It's like a low key Sleepy Hollow, but it's weirdly entertaining.
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"Hello, I'm attractively British and very clever."

I don't actually have cable, just internet and Roku and whatever, so there are some shows that I haven't been able to keep up with that I would really like to. I've heard amazing things about The Americans, about Soviet spies in the 80s, but I haven't been able to catch it at all yet. Hopefully it'll be up on Netflix sometime soon. I was absolutely crazy about the first season of Orphan Black, but *cough* I can't seem to get my hands on it anymore. Again, I'm counting the days until it's up on Netflix or something.
What did you guys really enjoy this year? Do you watch any of the shows that I talked about? Agree or disagree with my assessments?

Links to Love

I'm a huge proponent of bathos - the world is grim and depressing enough without me just piling on. So, in the interest of following up something solemn with something a little more light-hearted, here are some cool things, some fun things, some pretty things, and some awesome things. You can decide for yourself which things are which.

Diana Vreeland: Why don't you...
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I recently watched the documentary about the incredible Diana Vreeland, The Eye Must Travel, and I was really interested in a feature from her Harper's Bazaar days that they mentioned. Every issue, she would ask "why don't you..." do something interesting, or decadent, or outrageous? This collection of her suggestions might inspire you to glam up your life a bit. One of the easier suggestions - "Why don't you tie black tulle bows to your wrists?" I don't know, why don't I?

How to draw on bigger (or smaller) lips
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Flickr, for some reason, does not want me to have a picture of lips. I tried to upload three different images, and each time they timed out. I seriously think it's a conspiracy. Here's a picture of Al from Home Improvement.
This tutorial from Alle of xoVain is actually a must read for a vintage-makeup-loving lady. If you're trying to evoke a particular star or era, a little change in the shape of the lips can make a huge difference, and she walks you through a few of the most popular styles to try.

Oops, I got distracted (felt ornament tutorial)
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I don't own any Christmas decorations, and I'm really cheap, so something that will let me spruce up my place without costing a whole lot of money sounds pretty ideal to me. These felt ornaments are easy to make and super cute, too.

K-Beauty 101
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Sheet masks with snail slime extract make me preeeeeeeettyyyyyyyyy.
I'm heading to the Korean spa this weekend (So warm. So happy.), and while I'm there, I'm definitely going to stock up on some products at the massive market next door. My skin has been going insane lately, and I'm looking forward to giving it a little TLC.

Cheng I Sao, 19th Century Female Pirate
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Speaking of things that make me all warm inside and out, this history of Cheng I Sao, a female pirate captain from the early 1800s, is beyond awesome. Ok, so yes, she was a pirate, and didn't have any problems with killing or enslaving anyone who crossed her path; however, she enforced rules against rape or unusually cruel treatment of female prisoners amongst her 50,000 strong pirate army. Not only that, but when she decided to retire, she got to keep all of her money, as did most of the men in her fleet, and she even set up a fund to help the former pirates transition back to civilian life. What a badass.

I'm not qualified to talk about racism

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It's so hard to look at events in this country and not feel like there is something terribly wrong with the way certain segments of the population are treated. To me, that's an undeniable fact, but I know plenty of people who are more than capable of denying it. I spend a lot of time reading about all of this stuff - crime statistics, history, psychology, personal accounts of how racism has affected actual people - and yet, sometimes, no matter how many examples I throw at people, they remain mired in a fog of casual racism.
From their perspective, they're not racist. Of course they're not racist! They don't hate black people, they just know that black culture is hopelessly violent, black men are drug using thugs, black women have too many kids with too many baby daddies, and sometimes unarmed black children are killed and that's sad, but it's collateral damage because do you know how many black kids really do have guns these days? (I do want to note that this is not my perspective, but it is the sort of thing that I have actually heard from some people that I know.)
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I'm totally qualified to talk about how racist some white people can be - it's amazing the sort of shit that people will spout off to me, thinking that I agree with them. I am equally unqualified to talk about the black experience in America, and I think that that's the story that needs to be told. It's like when there's a congressional panel on birth control or abortion, and every fucking person sitting there is a man. As a woman, I find that incredibly frustrating, so I can kind of imagine what it must be like to be an African-American to hear a bunch of people who don't share your experiences talk about what they think racism is like. Here are some articles that talk about racism far better than I ever could.
The Case For Reparations
This long form article does a fantastic job laying out the systemic racism that has defined the black experience in America. It's not just about slavery, although obviously that has had a huge impact; the next 100+ years saw violence against blacks, housing discrimination, less access to education, political disenfranchisement, and more. My own city, Chicago, figures prominently in this story, and really opened my eyes to just how segregated the city is and what that means.
Applying 'Broken Windows' To The Police
Broken Windows is a theory of policing that cracks down on minor infractions in order to prevent larger ones. It's a theory that's taken hold in a lot of places, but it seems as if the same standard is not applied to the police themselves. In many of the instances of excessive force against black men, the officers involved had prior allegations of misconduct. If police treated their own with the same strict scrutiny as they treat the rest of the world, how many instances of police brutality could be avoided? To me, this is one of the most important issues that we could address as a society.
The New Racism
This is what I see more often than not. There are so many people who deny that racism is a factor anymore, but believe the worst of any black person because it fits the narrative that they have in their head.
Actually, Blacks Do Care About Black Crime
Another one that I hear all the time is "why aren't blacks out protesting all the violence in black communities?" For starters, there's something very different about a group of people that are supposed to enforce the law using their authority to kill with impunity, and regular violence in a community that is usually investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Moreover, there are plenty of people in the black community who are speaking out about violence in their communities, and working hard to promote jobs and education in order to prevent violence.
Why did Darren Wilson think Michael Brown had super powers?
Good question. Why would a man who is 6'4 and 200+ pounds feel so threatened by a teenager who was not significantly larger than himself? Basically, people tend to attribute super human characteristics to African-Americans, such as strength, speed, and ferocity. Think about the way that people talk about black athletes, and you might recognize what I mean.
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Obviously, this is just a small dose of the wide variety of pieces that have been written about the issue, but I think they offer a good primer about the current situation. If you have any articles that you've found particularly enlightening or interesting, please feel free to share.

The Red Menace

The Red Menace Is Real!
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No, not communism. Me.
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I'd actually been wanting to go back to red for a while, but for some reason in my head a red bob with bangs just screamed late 80s/early 90s to me. Possibly something to do with Molly Ringwald movies and Christopher Pike books; they're both generally pretty awesome, but there are some things about them that I don't want to emulate.
In retrospect, that was kind of silly. Even if other people do tend a peg a particular cut and color combo with a particular era, I'm going to look like some kind of throwback from 1991 unless I start feathering my bangs and wearing tapestry vests and frosted lipstick.
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I was just watching this movie last night, actually. It's a good movie, but holy mother of god is her style terrible in this film. Was there actually a point in the 80s when people thought this looked good? I guess some people look at my style and think the same thing, but... wow.
There's something about this particular shade of red that has an interestingly graphic quality. It's not quite a natural hair color, but it's not over the top, circus clown red either. It makes me feel kind of like a comic book character or something, which I really like. I thought some similarly graphic color blocking would be a fun counterpoint to the new color.
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I was trying to get all artsy with my photo taking. This looks kind of cool, right? I actually didn't do any editing with the color or use any filters. I love the marigold color of these tights.
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A more standard shot. I still feel a little awkward in short shift dresses like this, but the style is growing on me.
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So, I was looking at this photo, and I hated how shaggy my hair looked at the nape of my neck. If you have short hair, it ends up looking like this after just a few weeks. My boyfriend's clippers were right there, and I figured "how hard could it be to give myself an undercut?" Kind of hard, as it turns out. There's a reason people pay other people to do things like this. After a good 30 minutes of correcting my haphazard initial efforts, it's pretty even now, but I really need to learn that despite my years of experience of fucking with my hair, I'm not actually all that good at it.
What did you guys get up to this weekend?

My Year In Movies

As much as I love going to the movies, I feel like I don't actually do it that often. Part of that's money - if I had more of it, I'd do it twice a week (heh. That's what he said.). Part of it's access, since the closest theater to my house is a really small one. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense for someone like me to make a list of the best/worst movies of the year, since I missed out on so many of them, but here's a little recap of what I saw this year in roughly chronological order.

The Lego Movie
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Ok, how the fuck was a movie based on Legos this great? It was one of the first movies that I saw this year, and I still feel incredible fondness for it. It's cute without being overly twee, ironic without being sour, fun, funny, and surprisingly heartfelt. Asshole Batman? The whole Cloud Cuckooland set? The theme song, appropriately titled "Everything Is Awesome," which will be stuck in your head for days after you hear it? Writing this review is making me want to go watch it again right now.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
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You know how I said The Lego Movie was cute without being twee? That does not apply to this movie. This movie is twee as shit, and I don't care, because I would totally watch that that fake Wes Anderson horror movie that SNL made a trailer for because I love Wes Anderson and his particular brand of quirk. He's like my manic pixie dream director. What I loved about this movie is the deep undercurrent of sadness running through it, a beautiful melancholy for something that no longer exists (and likely never did in the first place), but which as been lovingly recreated.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
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I was actually pretty impressed by this Marvel outing. I was worried that they'd end up with something more along the lines of Iron Man 2 (lots of buildup and bluster, no real sense of danger), but they did a really fantastic job shifting the narrative from comic book super hero movie to paranoid thriller. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson have amazing platonic chemistry, and as The AV Club pointed out, it was pretty much the best depiction of a female superhero this year, and maybe for the last few years.

Veronica Mars
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*sigh* This movie. I didn't watch the series when it first aired because I was annoyed by how similar it seemed to my beloved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but after years of hearing about how awesome it was, I finally checked it out. And lo, I saw that it was good. Better than good. Amazing. Even when an episode fell flat, Veronica herself was such a treat - smart, mouthy, prone to getting herself into trouble and even better at getting herself out again. I enthusiastically donated to the Kickstarter campaign to make the movie, and streamed it at home the first day it was available.
As great as it was to see the band back together, solving murders and kicking ass, there was just something missing. Too much fan service, when the show was devoted to sticking a knife in our guts and twisting. Too many easy answers to problems that used to just get thornier the deeper you dug. And they basically pulled an invasion of the body snatchers on Logan, who used to be frustrating and problematic but won me over despite my better judgement, and who is now both an officer and a gentleman. (I just realized how many movie references I packed into that last sentence, and wow. I don't know if I should be ashamed or amused.)
Basically, see it if you're already a mega-fan, but skip it if you're not. I still have hopes for a possible series reboot, but the movie fails to recapture the magic.

Godzilla
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The humans are kind of annoying (although whathisface from Kick-Ass grew up hot), but Godzilla himself is everything you could want from a monster. He was mystical, unknowable, and terrifying, but also had a surprising amount of pathos.

Edge of Tomorrow
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Easily the most underrated movie of the year for me. I don't care much for Tom Cruise, but his smarm actually works pretty well here - you get to see him make a fool of himself, get his ass kicked, and get killed over and over and over (and over and over) again. Eventually he does redeem himself, but it feels earned. I loved Emily Blunt in Looper, and she's a treat here as well. She's got a sexy toughness, a practicality, and a vulnerability that makes her really appealing in a role like this, which makes good use of all of her gifts. The movie not only makes you like the characters, it makes you worry about them. It's one of the few genuinely tense action movies that I've seen in a long time.

Maleficent
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I liked this one more than a lot of other people did (see my original review in this post), but in retrospect, it's dulled a little bit in my memory. It was great seeing Angelina Jolie do her thing again, and the visuals were simply stunning, and the analogy to rape and how it was dealt with, and the fact that true love's first kiss was from a mother to a daughter... Wait, what was I talking about? Now that I think about it, I still really liked the movie.

Transformers: Age of Extinction
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Not pictured: anything from that awful fucking movie. Deep breaths. Just look at the cute baby animals.
This movie was so terrible it made me angry. I literally walked out. If I remember correctly, the reason why was that the hottie in distress had just been taken by the alien menace, and her dad is all like "you're helping me rescue my daughter" to her race car driving boyfriend, and the boyfriend is all like "no, you're helping me rescue my girlfriend." Because of course she's not an actual person that they love, she's a social construct for men to use to prove their dominance over one another. Fucking patriarchy. *feminist nerd rage*

Guardians of the Galaxy
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Just going to do this one in memes. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas. Spooge. Saw it twice. Both funny, action packed, and not stupid. I like it when my superheroes don't take themselves too seriously.

Lucy
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On the opposite end of the spectrum, here's a movie that I was really excited about, but which was completely incomprehensible and kind of terrible. There were some interesting visuals, but the plot was labored and senseless, the performances were weak, every interpersonal connection clearly only existed to facilitate a particular plot point, and I seriously just could not move past the whole "human beings only use 10% of their brains" bullshit because they kept saying it over and over again. So much potential, wasted in the most annoying possible way.

Birdman
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Brian and I saw this one when we were in New Orleans, and I was so amazed. It's a long ass movie, but it felt like it just swept me up in its currents and took me along for a really amazing ride; I didn't even notice when my butt went numb. Part of that is because of the camera style - it looks like one long, unbroken tracking shot, following people around the theater, down the street, into bars. It's technically amazing, but after a while, you stop noticing it, and only realize that everything feels seamless, fluid in a way that's more reflective of real life than even the most well-crafted movies. The fact that it's also incredibly surreal actually works really well with that sense of real life unfolding before you. It gets into your head in the best possible way, and I left the theater feeling like I'd been reborn. On reflection, this is probably the best movie I've seen this year.

Gone Girl
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I just reviewed this one not too long ago, so I won't talk about it too much. I really enjoyed it - I thought it was slick, well made, and visually striking. There's an icy feeling to the whole thing, which is reflective of both Fincher's style and the content of the movie. I'd read the book, so the movie didn't really hold any surprises for me. It would be nice if there was more adaptation to book-to-movie adaptations, but as far as accurately reflecting the source materials, it did a good job. If you liked the book, you'll like the movie. If you haven't read the book, but like taut, twisty, slightly gory thrillers, you'll like the movie.

Happy New Year
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I saw this Bollywood flick with a group of friends, and that was the perfect way to see it. It's so utterly ridiculous, filled with plot holes and nonsense and abs for days, that you can't help but love it a little bit. Here, this comic will help you.
The Vigil Idiot: Happy New Year

Big Hero 6
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I was kind of surprised by how much I liked this movie. I saw it on a total whim, having heard mixed to positive reviews, and I'm really happy that I did. It's very sweet, and I think it deals with grief very well. I love the animation style, and they did a really remarkable job creating a Japanese influenced vision of the future without falling head first into anime tropes. It's a great kids' movie, but it holds up very well for adults in the audience too.

TLDR; Watch The Lego Movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Birdman; throw Transformers and Lucy in a fire, jump up and down on top of them, and then piss on them to put them out, and do whatever you want with the other ones on the list.

What did you watch this year? Anything you particularly loved/hated?

What's eating you?

I'm a pretty big believer in writing every day. I used to really like doing morning pages, and writing about whatever I felt like just as my day was getting started. It felt like it helped me get the creative juices flowing, and most writers agree that the ability to write consistently and well is a habit you develop, not necessarily a skill that you're born with.
I do push myself to post every weekday, or at least every weekday that I'm working. In the warmer months, that wasn't too hard. If I didn't feel like writing or couldn't think of much to say, I could always fall back to a short outfit post and still feel like I was posting some decent content. Now, of course, it's winter, and daylight hours are short, so I can really only take outfit shots on the weekends. I hadn't realized how much I relied on typically having two posts a week that were just there and sorted out for me.
Of course, now that I have to be a little more creative about generating content, I'm having a little bit of a mental slump. I know, realistically, that I have plenty to talk about. I'm cooking every night, and some of my recipes are turning out pretty damn well. I'm knee deep in some awesome books and TV shows. There's a lot of stuff going on in the world that I have strong opinions about. I've also been toying with doing a campy little sci-fi or fantasy serial, which would help me dip my toes back into creative writing on a deadline.
As interesting as I would find it to write those kinds of posts, I'm not sure if it would be a positive step for this blog or not. A lot of the advice that I've read about blogging is to create a consistent brand. My posts are already a bit scatter shot - one day a fashion post, one day a movie review, the next day a social justice rant - and diversifying even further might just make the folks who were only interested in, say, the fashion aspect of the blog, tune out. I'm not so vain as to think that this will ever be much more than a hobby for me, but watching my readership grow has been a real point of pride. I'm still in the very minor leagues in terms of readership, but I am reaching a much broader audience than I was even a few months ago. I don't want to lose that readership to poorly thought out editorial changes.
I'm talking about this in part because I know a lot of the people reading this are fellow bloggers, and you guys probably have similar problems at least some of the time. It can be hard to balance quality with consistency, and creating content that both appeals to a broad audience and is reflective of a genuine voice and personality.
This is a really fucking long winded way to say that I couldn't think of anything to write about, so here are some pictures of old Hollywood babes eating. Enjoy.

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All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth

I don't actually want my two front teeth for Christmas, although I briefly did when I was small and lost all four of my front teeth just in time for the holiday season. That's some planning, right there. I have seen some teeth that's been made into jewelry, but even with my love of the macabre I find that rather icky.
It feels rather weird to just post a list of things that I want. It's not that I don't like getting presents - I fucking love getting presents - but isn't it kind of strange to just tell a person what you want? I guess it's a convenient arrangement sometimes, since it can be hard to choose a present for someone, especially if it's not someone that you know well, and I know plenty of people that just want to be sure they'll get something they'll actually like, rather than just some body lotion that makes them sneeze and a gift card to Amazon.
But I did sign up for Secret Santa, so Secret Santa buddy, this list is partly for you (although feel free to get me whatever you want, these are just suggestions for if you're stumped), and partly for any of my friends who read this and need some help picking out a gift for me. If anyone else wants to buy me a gift... um, don't do that. That's weird. I definitely didn't get you anything.
Mid-Century Needlepoint Purse
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I don't usually go for vintage purses, but sometimes a pretty needlepoint bag seems like just the thing to complete an outfit. This one even has bakelite handles!
Red Rhinestone Dress Clips
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I actually have a small collection of dress clips, so anything in that realm would be very welcome. I really like these red rhinestone ones since I've been adding a lot of red to my wardrobe.
Green Floral Scarf
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Scarves are an awesome accessory year round, and I think this green, floral print scarf is especially pretty.
Rabbit Print Lunch Bag
I could really use a cute lunch bag instead of just throwing my stuff into a grocery bag.
Turquoise Insect Brooch
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Guys. Guys. Guys. Oh my god. Guys. This is cute.
Sugar Lip Polish
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I would never, ever buy something like this for myself, but as the queen of flaky, chapped lips, I'd actually love to have this.


Am I the only one who feels weird about the concept of a wishlist? I don't remember making them when I was a kid (no, "Dear Santa" for me), so maybe that has something to do with it.

Christmastime is here

Turkey has been eaten, sales have been shopped (although there are still a lot of them going on because I guess Cyber Monday is a legit thing now; I seriously had never heard of it before last year), and everyone's started thinking about tinsel and twinkle lights. Some people are already complaining about the Christmas tunes being piped into all the stores and public spaces, but I actually really enjoy them. They're simple, repetitive, and familiar, and singing along with them is one of my chief pleasures this time of year.
I didn't used to like Christmas much. My parents told my brother and I that they were getting a divorce just a couple of weeks before Christmas, and that last holiday together was really freaking strained and weird. When I got older, I would feel guilty that I couldn't afford to give people nice gifts, since I was always so short on money, and a couple of years ago, my dog got very ill on Christmas and died just before New Year's. Talk about baggage.
Usually I'm one of those people who dashes into Walgreens for a last minute gift. "Here's an unwrapped bottle of cheap vodka and some air freshener refills! Merry Christmas!" For once, I'm actually kind of on the ball in terms of gift giving. I've already bought and shipped my present for my Chronically Vintage Secret Santa buddy (I trolled her Instagram for inspiration, and I'm pretty sure she's going to love it), and I know what I'm getting at least some of the people I'm shopping for.
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Just call me "Santa Baby."
Brian is a little harder to shop for, but I've got some ideas percolating. I'm still holding out hope that he'll tell me something that he wants, but I think I can still come up with something fun even if he doesn't.
Aside from shopping, I've also had a lot of fun over the past few days. Thanksgiving was at Brian's parents' house in Indiana, and I spent it cooking, drinking, and chopping wood. I mention this mostly because I wanted a good reason to share the following photos.
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Ye olde pioneer woman.
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"No TV and no beer make Homer something something." "Go crazy?" "Don't mind if I do!"
Friday was a short work day, and then Saturday I did a little more shopping and then partied down at a friend's birthday. I stayed out until 4am, which I never do, hanging out with awesome people and doing karaoke. I seriously hope I'm still that much fun when I turn 50 myself.
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Somehow, a long, ratty black wig makes me look more like a man that I do with short hair. Weird.
This week, I'm going to try to do a little Christmas decorating. I've never actually done it before, but I'm kind of excited to put up some lights, and I'm thinking about getting a nice wreath and a little Christmas tree. It always used to seem like just another expense I couldn't be bothered with, but now it feels like part of making my apartment feel like home.
What are you guys doing to get ready for Christmas? Do you enjoy the season?

Cha-ching cha-ching

It's officially Black Friday, and there are a ton of sales underway. Check out my #treatyoself post from Monday - I've included a huge update with even more sales, some of them really, really fantastic. Tara Starlet, 40% off and free shipping worldwide; Trashy Diva, 30% off with the code BLACKOUT30; The Vintage Mistress, 25% off, and so very many more.
I actually did my Black Friday shopping last night on my phone, because I have absolutely no patience. I got my gift for my Secret Santa buddy, and I got my own Christmas present, which I will totally be wrapping up and putting under the tree and not spending every waking minute stroking and telling it how beautiful it is.
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And don't forget, TheBestVintageClothing.com is offering an amazing 50% off for three hours only, 3-6pm EST. They've got a really fantastic array of clothes at all price points, and if you're looking at more expensive items, 50% off might make them much for attainable. Use the code BF14 to save big.
Just a few of their pretty pretties-
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This confetti lucite necklace
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This fantastic 40s nurses cape
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This amazing 70s does 20s dress from Finnish designer Vuokko Nurmesniemi (aka Marimekko)

So get on it, ladies! I don't know about you, but I seriously can't resist a sale.

Giving Thanks

Something that I find really beautiful about this time of year is that everything slows down a little bit. It's cold, and that drive to hibernate keeps us indoors and close to home. It always turns my thoughts inwards, and makes me reflect on what I have in my life.
Sometimes, that's a bit painful. I don't have a lot of family in my life; some of the people that I loved have passed, and others are estranged (for good reasons that I won't go into right now), and since I moved to Chicago, I've spent more than a few Thanksgivings alone, or working. Last year I went to Dublin over the holiday, partly to avoid the whole situation. I bought my ticket before I started dating my boyfriend, and while I had a wonderful time there, on Thanksgiving I found myself sitting on a bridge, looking out over the Liffey, eating a turkey sandwich and wishing I had someone to share the moment with.
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I mean, just look at that. I wanna go baaaaaaack.
I think a lot of people battle with loneliness this time of year. Ads and movies and tv shows and songs are all about the joy of gathering with your friends and family, talking and laughing and bickering and sharing meals. There's something very primal, very human about it. For most of human history, this was the time of year where we didn't just choose to come together, we were forced to do so to survive in the face of the harsh weather and scarce food. Feast days, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, were much needed breaks from fast days, which were necessary to preserve food stores. For most people, food scarcity isn't something that we worry about anymore, but the urges that come with the onset of winter remain.
This year, I feel like I'm in a really good place. It's almost startling how happy life is making me right now.
One of the things that I'm truly grateful for this year is my boyfriend, Brian.
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The filter I used here is called "Lucky." Seemed appropriate.
We've moved pretty fast with our relationship - we just started dating a little over a year ago, and already we've moved in and are talking about a long future together. I'm really happy to have someone in my life who supports and understands me; who can have a talk about issues (personal or social) and take my opinion seriously, but who is also really joyful, and will dance around the house with me; who loves me; who isn't perfect but is awesome.
Even though I complain about it all the time, I'm also really grateful for my job.
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The totally awesome view from my break room at work.
For the first time in my life, I have a pretty stable income. I may not have a lot of money, but I have enough money. I don't have panic attacks over bills anymore when something unexpected comes up. I even have decent benefits! A regular schedule, plenty of time off, a relatively low stress environment. Sometimes, when I really stop and think about it, I can't believe how lucky I am to have stumbled into it. I also just applied for a promotion, and I think I have a really good chance of getting it.
My friends are another bright point in my life. There are a couple of people in particular that I love, and am so happy to have in my life. I don't see them often enough, but I'm determined to fix that as soon as possible.
Is it silly that I'm thankful for my wardrobe? Probably, but I am.

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It will never stop evolving, but I feel like, for the first time in my life, it really reflects who I am, or the least who I want people to see. For a really long time, the only thing it showed was what was on sale at Kmart, so it feels good to have control over it.
I'm grateful for my city, for my safety, for my neighbor's dog, for my coworkers, for the books that I read, for my health, for my youth, for red lipstick, for good tv, for whiskey, for sales (sorry, had to shill a little bit), for this blog and all of the kind people who read it, and sometimes even comment.
That's kind of all encompassing, isn't it? But really, for all my little complaints and issues and annoyances, I have a good life, and it feels good sometimes to stop and remember that.
What are you thankful for? Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, feel free to comment.

No post tomorrow (I will be far too busy stuffing my face, drinking too much, and napping), but keep an eye out Friday. I'm going to be trolling Etsy and posting about even more sales, so if, like me, you're participating in Chronically Vintage's Secret Santa, now might be a great time to find the perfect gift.

Baby I'm Howling For You

If you didn't already see it, yesterday I posted my list of Black Friday deals and coupons, including really fantastic coupons from TheBestVintageClothing.com, Chronically Vintage on Etsy, and ReVamp Vintage. Go check it out! Better yet, spread the word. I'll be posting the coupon codes throughout the week on my Instagram account (@cakesvintage), so repost at will.
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When I was in college I took a class on fairy tales and folklore, and Little Red Riding Hood was a really fascinating one to dissect. It's a generally accepted premise that fairy tales are told to children to help them understand how the world works, and they reflect our subconscious fears and desires. That's why there are so many similar ones across different cultures around the world. Little Red Riding Hood expresses the fears of growing up, of women reaching maturity and exploring their sexuality, and the dangers inherent in that. If you're interested in a modern, feminist interpretation of the story, Angela Carter's short story The Bloody Chamber is a really good.
This weekend was surprisingly warm, if damp, so I made a point to get a little dressed up and take some fun photos. I've been feeling very inspired by fairy tales and folk inspired details, and a cheeky take on Little Red Riding Hood just kind of spontaneously came together.
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Ok, so I'm not wearing red, I don't have a hood, and I'm not particularly little. I sort of liked the implication of Little Red wearing a nice *cough* fur cape, though, as if she'd handled the wolf problem and had a little something to show for it.
I've worn this dress before, most recently here, and I was happy to discover that it actually works pretty well as a layering piece. A prim, peter pan collar blouse with a brooch at the neck and another, shorter skirt in a coordinating color pretty easily took it from summertime sundress to something folkloric and fall appropriate, like a dirndl with an apron.
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I was actually pinning up the skirt to hem it, and when I tried it on, I realized that I liked the look of the slightly longer underskirt. I didn't leave it this way, but I thought for the photos it was a fun touch. I might replicate the look with a longer petticoat or cotton slip in the future.
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I've been trying to find different ways to use my backyard, just so that I'm not taking the same photos over and over again, and I think I like this higher vantage point. I don't have a remote trigger for my camera, though, so it's probably pretty amusing watching me run up and down a flight of stairs umpteen times to push the button.
Do you have a favorite fairy tale? I'll be honest, while I like reading them, it tends to frustrate me that, because of when and where they come from, the women are always helpless damsels, waiting for men to rescue them. I usually enjoy reading interpretations of them that give the women in the stories a little more agency and power. Neil Gaiman has some decent ones like that, and the aforementioned Angela Carter does as well.

#treatyoself (and maybe other people too): Black Friday Vintage Deals

Updated: I've added even more sales, some of which I discovered, some of which I was contacted about.
Everybody loves a deal, right? While it can be fun to relentlessly search for the best deals, sometimes, when you're just coming out of a turkey coma, it's nice when someone has already done a little bit of the legwork for you. Whether you're picking out your own holiday treat, finding the perfect gift for someone you love, or creating a little Secret Santa magic, I've got a whole bunch of awesome offers collected for you, right here, for your shopping pleasure.
If you're a vendor and don't see your name on the list, it's not too late. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email letting me know about your Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Please Buy My Stuff Saturday promotion.

The Best Vintage Clothing - Exclusive discount, 50% off 3PM-6PM est 11/28 only, code BF14
My jaw pretty much dropped when Miss Kitty from The Best Vintage Clothing responded to my "are you having a Black Friday sale?" email with "sure, how's 50% off for your readers sound?" Um, yes, please! Three hours only, so look sharp with this one, and start planning your purchases now. If you're a collector, they have some really amazing designer dresses, as well as some well preserved pieces from the 10s and 20s. 50% off something like that could be the steal of the year if you're looking for a special piece.

Wool and Silk Deco Dress, Larger Size $556 $278

This beautiful and beautifully preserved dress from the 1920s is a larger size (great if you're constantly annoyed by how teeny stuff from that era always seems to be), and the beautiful wool and silk design would be perfect for attending a fancy Christmas party or winter wedding.
Signed Schiaperelli Necklace and Earrings $476 $238
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Who doesn't love Schiaperelli? Her whimsical, intellectual designs made her one of the most popular designers among the artistic set in the 20s, 30s, and 40s. This signed necklace and earrings set make a stunning statement, and might make a great gift for a stylish woman in your life. If that woman's you, I wouldn't judge.
1940s Black Rayon Suit with Capelet $399.20 $199.60
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This 1940s, Victorian inspired suit would make a stunning statement on any suit lover. The fitted jacket emphasizes the waist, and the capelet detailing adds playful interest.
If, like me, you're on the prowl for more day to day items, it's a great time to snatch those up as well.
Baby Alligator Purse $159.20 $79.60
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I'm not crazy for thinking this is really cute, right?
Hand Painted Circle Skirt $239.20 $119.60
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I've seen these hand-painted circle skirts go for $200-250, so $120 is a steal for something this beautiful and detailed.
Crown and Scepter Embroidered Blouse $195 $97.50
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Good vintage blouses can be hard to find, and I love the embroidered details on this one.
Looking for a gift? There's a great Collectibles section with knick knacks, art, and paper ephemera, as well as vintage patterns and fabric for the crafty dame (or bloke) in your life.

Chronically Vintage - Exclusive discount, 25% off order 11/24-12/2 code BLACKFRIDAYSAVE25
There is always so much to love in Jessica's beautifully curated Etsy shop - it was hard to pick just a few favorites! But here are some pieces that I've been keeping an eye on.
1930s Pave Butterfly $48 $36
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1950s Faux Tortoise Shell Lucite Purse $88 $66
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Square Rose Gold Lucite Bangle $24 $18
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ReVamp Vintage - 20% off using THANKS2014 on Friday, the 28th only
This vintage reproduction company has offerings from the 1910s through the 1950s. What I love about this store is the variety of clothing they offer - it's hard to find authentic vintage from the 1910s and 20s, but you can get it here, in your size, lovingly recreated just for you. They even have made to measure options!
Beatrice Dress, 1935 $220 $176
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Swing Collectibles Slacks, 1940s $100 $80
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Bianca Blouse, 1955 $130 $104
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Custard Heart - 25-65% off the entire store, 11/28-12/1
This beautiful vintage boutique adds new items daily, and specializes in wearable items for the modern vintage lover.
Voyeur Vintage - 25% off 11/27-12/1
This is one of my very favorite Etsy shops out there. Pretty and really wearable pieces, always reasonably priced. My first stop whenever I'm looking for a "wear it all day, every day" item.
Vacation Vintage - 30% off 11/24-11/28
If there's any shop that I would happily buy everything they've got, it's this one. This tightly curated jewel box has gorgeous clothes from the 30s through the 60s.
VeryVintage - 10% off 11/23-26, 20% off 11/27-12/1
Oh, the dresses! Very Vintage always has unique, beautiful, and reasonably priced items for the discerning collector.
Capsule Vintage - 30% off from 11/27-12/1
I always find myself drooling over beautiful 50s/60s party and day dresses on offer from Capsule Vintage.
Carousel Vintage Boutique - 30% storewide 11/28-12/2
This pretty boutique has a wide range of apparel and accessories from the 40s through the 80s, and there's always a little something for everyone.
Sweet Bee Finds - 25% off from 11/27-12/2
The prettiness on display from Sweet Bee is hard to match - she's got beautiful party and day dresses, with shoes and accessories to match.
Victory Mills - 25% off from 11/27-11/30
Another beautifully curated shop, reasonably priced and specializing mostly in lovely day dresses.
Bloomers and Frocks - 20% off entire store 11/28-11/30
This fabulous store actually sorts their offerings by s/m/l, making their store one of the easiest to search.
Jumblelaya - 20% off 11/26-12/1
There are so many gorgeous pieces available here that it's hard to pick a favorite! Her carefully chosen pieces are beautiful and unique.
Hollie Point  - 20% off starting at midnight 11/27-12/2 at 9pm
This store has a beautiful selection of clothes, shoes, and accessories, mostly from the 50s and 60s, and I've been informed that there will be a lot of new items added to the store for the sale.
Crush Vintage  - Special discount for Instagram follwers (@crushvintage) 11/25-11/27; 25% off storewide 11/28-12/1
This store has a wide array of inventory, and every piece is a winner. Lately I've been stalking their shoes and coats - so many pieces to love!
Heart of Haute - 15% off sitewide, 2 chances to win a goodie bag, and 1 chance to get your order FREE 6pm 11/27-midnight 11/28; 25% off select items on 12/1
Steady Clothing - 50% off select items, 20% off entire store
Foxy Brit Vintage - 30% off the entire store
Pickled Vintage - 45-60% off (moving sale, don't know how long this one will last)
Stutterin Mama - 20% off
Cheshire Vintage Shop - 20% off with code HAPPYHOLIDAYS
Raleigh Vintage - 20% off 11/26-12/2
Trunk of Dresses - 20% off
Dear Golden - 25% off
Adored Vintage - 25% off through 12/1
When Decades Collide - 20% off through 11/30
Wildfell Hall - 20% off, TODAY ONLY
The Vintage Mistress - 25% off
Trashy Diva - 30% off everything (including sale) with code BLACKOUT30
Dethrose Vintage - 20% off
Tara Starlet - 40% off party dresses with code TGIF, + FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE
Lapoubelle Vintage  - 25% off
Simplicity is Bliss  - 25% off

Links to Love

I think you'll want to know this: 
On Monday, I'm going to post a list of post-Thanksgiving sales and deals from vintage or vintage appropriate stores. I sent out feelers to a lot of different places, and I've got some great intel on the best places to shop, including a couple of really exciting exclusive deals. Even if you're not American, it's still a great time to find some truly amazing deals.
I'm going to be updating the list through Friday, so if you'd like to be included, it's not too late! 

You know what I hate? The sun. Well, not the sun per se, but the fact that I don't actually see much of it after late October. No sun means no natural lighting, and no natural lighting means I can't take outfit photos. I suppose I could take them inside, but with our dingy carpet and crappy lighting, I just don't really want to.
So, uh, links! You should love them!
Actually, I do like putting together these posts. I spend a lot of time reading things on the internet - amusing things, odd things, sad things, things that really, really piss me off. Once in a while I'll share an article on Facebook or whatever, but it's nice to just run the gamut with you guys sometimes.
A Rapper Is Facing Life In Prison For His Album Cover
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Chuck D from Public Enemy once said that "rap is like CNN for black people." I honestly can't say if it still occupies the same place in African-American culture that it once did, but I think it's pretty obvious that describing the kind of world that you live in does not prompt people to act out what your describing. They way they're applying the law in this case is wrong-headed, stupid, and racially fraught. If a writer describes a murder, and then someone reads the book and commits a similar crime, is someone going to prosecute the writer for conspiracy? Or is it only black "gangsta" rappers who qualify for this skewed application of the law?
The Indian Sanitary Pad Revolutionary
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Life changing.
Somehow I missed this article when it came out a few months ago, but I stumbled across it on the BBC website recently. I think it's actually pretty amazing what one person can do, even with limited resources, when they really bend their mind to a problem.
It seems crazy to me that for all of human history, half the population has had to deal with menstruation, and yet in some areas of the world, it's still this crippling taboo. Some women use sand and ashes to absorb the blood, which, seriously, is so WTF that I can't even. If they use rags, they might be too embarrassed to actually wash them. All of this, obviously, is terrible for your lady parts, and can lead to infections. The man who invented this machine was shunned by his village and deserted by his mother and the wife that inspired him before he found success. Not only is he helping improve hygiene for Indian women, he's also providing employment for poor, rural women who buy his machines and then sell the pads that they make. I never thought I'd find a dude who makes maxi pads so inspirational.
French man quits ISIS because it was too hard to stop smoking
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American government formulates plan to drop cigarettes over occupied territory, wins war.

The new trailer for Pitch Perfect 2
Seeing this.
Pretty Hurts
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I really love this series on The Cut from New York Magazine. This group of articles explores the relationship women have with beauty, and what goes into fitting into society's ideas about what a woman should look like. My two favorites: Photographer Captures Fat Shaming; New York Women Draw Their Own Boobs
Marijuana, Coke, Nicotine: The Truth About "Natural" Drugs
My biggest takeaway from this - pot is a Schedule I drug, coke is Schedule II. That means coke is considered less dangerous and more legit that marijuana. It is a strange, strange world that we live in.
Belle de Jour
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Ok, maybe sometimes I do want to dress like a French girl.

Fuck Yeah Oatmeal

I freaking love oatmeal. I know that might sound a tad overenthusiastic for boiled wheat groats, but I could (and frequently do) have it for breakfast every day for weeks a time. Steel-cut oats are my weapon of choice, but old-fashioned rolled oats will do in a pinch.
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I think what I like best about oatmeal is the versatility. It doesn't matter if my pantry is all but bare - just about anything goes with it. Peanut butter and banana is what I usually add, but I've also done, among other things, cocoa powder, milk, and a dash of cayenne; sausage and peas; a fried egg, spinach, and Sriracha; and olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder, when there wasn't anything else in the house. And all of them were actually pretty good!
If your idea of oatmeal is the thick, gluey, over-sweetened mixture you've poured out of instant oatmeal packets, give it another try. Like I said, steel-cut oats are what I like to buy (Bob's Red Mill brand, if you have them near you), but old-fashioned rolled oats are great as well.
A single serving of steel cut oats is 1/4 cup, but for measuring purposes I make 1/3 cup, which takes 1 cup of water to cook.
Important first step: toast that shit. It doesn't take very long, and it adds a warm, slightly nutty flavor to your oats that I find makes them ten times better. Just measure out your oats and pour them into a pan. Turn your burner on medium-high heat. Shake the pan regularly, maybe every 10 seconds, to keep them from burning. After 3 or 4 minutes, your oats should be turning a golden brown and start to smell deliciously toasty.
Pour your water over the top - it will immediately come to a rolling boil. Turn your heat way down, just to a simmer. Put a lid on and leave it at a very low boil for 10-20 minutes. I don't even bother to stir it, I just come back in about 15 minutes, when I'm done washing my face and brushing my teeth and all that, and it's done. If you're using rolled oats, it's the exact same process, except that you can turn the heat completely off after bringing the water to a boil. That's probably the route you want to go if you don't like leaving your stove unattended at all, or have a kid or pet that might knock something off of or onto the stove.
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Was looking for pictures of steel cut oats, stumbled across this. Ooooh, baby.

I can't be the only one that gets absurdly jazzed about something this random. I think I mostly just love my starches and carbohydrates. Mashed potatoes? Mouth watering. Mac and cheese? Would happily eat it for lunch every day in the winter. 

Classic Movie Catchup: Mulan

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Mulan isn't the kind of movie that I usually talk about in these classic movie posts, but I watched it recently, it's pretty freaking classic, and I want to talk about it. So there.
I'm not the Disney fanatic that some people (particularly in the vintage community, it seems) are. I was much more in tune with Warner Brothers' snark than I was with Disney's earnestness, but Mulan is the kind of movie that's practically designed to break down my defenses. It's probably a good thing I watched it when I was home alone, otherwise I would have felt weird alternately cheering and crying.
You've seen it, right? I'm assuming everyone here has seen it. If not, there'll probably be some spoilers in this post. Maybe go watch it right now if you haven't seen it - it's streaming on Netflix anyway.
It's funny, but the movie seemed much longer when I was younger. There are only a few major events in the movie, but they pack a lot of emotion into not a lot of running time. The songs are maybe not as memorable as, say, The Lion King, but I don't think many movies can compare in that regard. I'll Make a Man Out of You is definitely the standout number - I was singing it in the shower the next day, and am thinking it might make a pretty sweet karaoke jam.
Now, I'll grant that I haven't seen either Brave or Frozen, so maybe Mulan isn't the most feminist Disney animated movie anymore, but it's the most feminist one that I've seen. For starters, Mulan is the driver of the story, not a passive character driven by the actions of others. While, like most Disney princesses, she's motivated by love, it's love of family that pushes her to take up her father's sword, not a romantic involvement.
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I've seen some criticism of the fact that Mulan has to dress up as a man to gain the power to save both her family and her country, but I think they're missing the point. For one thing, they're applying modern standards to a historical character. There are a lot of stories about women dressing as men to go into the military, or to be the son that their mother needs in order to survive in a patriarchal society, or to be able to live their lives on their own terms. I think it says a lot more about the society that they live in, which only respects them if they are male, than it does about the women who subvert the rules to accomplish their goals.
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They also kind of miss the fact that Mulan is actually dressed as a woman at the moment of her triumph. When she defeats Shan Yu, she does it wearing a dress and using only a fan and her innate intelligence.
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Though there is a love story, it's at the very background of the story, and it's really not until that end that it reads as anything other than close camaraderie between soldiers. Part of that may be that Disney wanted to avoid any gay subtext, but I like to think it's because Mulan was far more concerned with not getting found out, and with defeating the threat to her country, than with finding love with Commander Cutie.
I don't think it's just Disney's carefully engineered heartstring tugging machine that made me bawl when Mulan comes home either. Her father practically tossing aside the sword and seal to hug the daughter that he missed - holy fucking catharsis, Batman. I'm tearing up a little bit right now just thinking about it.
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I tried to watch Pocahontas the other night, and I just couldn't make it through. I remember loving that movie when I was young, and I heard someone sing Colors of the Wind not too long ago and realizing was a beautiful song it is, but all I could think about was small pox and genocide. And it weirdly bugged me that John Smith didn't have a British accent. There was no America yet, guys! Why does he sound like he's from Nebraska? Robin Hood (the one where he's a fox) was another favorite that was only ok through the lens of adulthood.
What childhood favorites have your revisited? How did you feel about the experience?

Also, just a little reminder: I will be posting some amazing deals in anticipation of Black Friday this Monday, the 24th. I have exclusive offers from Chronically Vintage and The Best Vintage Clothing, as well as a great list of the offers from some of my favorite vintage and vintage appropriate sellers. If you're a vendor and would like to be added to the list, just let me know.

Budget Blues

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Oh, god, I'm going to talk about money.
Let me be clear about something: I'm not really very good with it. My feelings can best be summed up as "if I has it, I spends it." Of course, there are people out there who are much worse than I am - I'm not actually accruing any debt or anything - but I'll be the first to admit that I'm terrible at saving.
I know I've mentioned the furniture business Brian and his brother started, but something that I haven't talked much about is how upset Brian has been lately that he can't spend as much time as he'd like working on it. They've been having some success, and I know he's felt like he's not as much a part of it as he'd like to be. They're doing commissions, collaborating with artists, and getting their pieces into stores, and he really wants to be there to help it keep growing.
I told him a while back that I would help him even if he quit his job, that we'd find some way to make things work. Thankfully, he's not doing anything that extreme, but he is moving to a part time position and will be making about half of what he currently makes. Cue mild panic on my part.
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The Prince and the Pauper
Ok, yes, I know I told him that I'd support him, we'd make it work, blah blah blah. He's still going to be able to pay his portion of the rent, but after things like transportation and his cell phone bill, he's not going to have much of anything left over. Our utilities are included in our rent, so yay for that, but I'm going to be taking over all of our other household expenses, like groceries. Since he won't be able to buy his lunch anymore, which he currently does most days, I'm going to have to cook more and bigger meals to make sure there's food around the house.
Don't start with me about feeling like I have to cook for him. I like to cook, and I'm also kind of anal retentive about my kitchen, in that I don't really like other people using it. I'll shop and cook, he'll do the dishes, everyone will be happy and fed. I'm still a good feminist, even if I spend a good portion of my time barefoot in my kitchen.
We sat down and figured out what our expenses are, and after everything, I've still got a little bit left over. Enough to go out for dinner once in a while, or buy a new skirt or dress clip, or buy my coffee on a regular basis. Not all of the above.
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Not quite where I'll be at.
I'm going to have to start making some smarter choices about how I spend my money. I like to buy things, and not spending money on things that I want, but don't necessarily need, is always a struggle for me. I'm sure I can adapt to my new budget, but I also know it'll take some time before I get used to the new status quo.
I guess it's a good thing, in a way. It's easy to be stupid with my money when I have extra. I don't think about my purchases as much, and when I buy something, a lot of the time it's with an air more of "why not?" instead of "why?" I'm also kind of excited to be cooking more often. It's something that I was really passionate about for a time, and while I still cook regularly, I don't put a lot of thought into what I make. You'll definitely start seeing recipe posts here more often.
I hope I don't sound terribly entitled. I grew up pretty poor, and now that I have enough money not to be struggling all the time, I really appreciate it, and it's going to be hard to start watching my pennies all the time again.
How have you dealt with budgeting difficulties? Is there anything that you recommend to help avoid missing spending money that you don't have anymore?